Investment in Skytrain extensions
Governor Samak told the press that the government has approved in principle the investment scheme for the Skytrain extensions: the central government will invest 65% [thus 52% of all investment] while BMA invest 35% in public sectors [thus 28% of all investment] and BTSC will invest the rest. BMA is working on a business plan in detail to be submitted into the cabinet to obtain the money from Budget Bureau for the extensions and this plan will be delivered to BTSC creditors to enable BTSC to obtain loans.
Governor Samak also told the press that even though BMA asked STECON to readjust Phaseecharoen Elevated Way to become the Taksin extension, there will be no station near Charoen Nakorn since he considers that those who live along Charoen Nakhon can rely on ferries and feeder bus service (the stations on the Taksin extension will be at Krung Thonburi Road and another 200 meters further from the Taksin intersection). After Taksin the intersection, BMA will construct a ramp allowing the Skytrain to go down to go to Machai along Mahachai Railway in the future. However, BMA needs money from the central government to implement the ramp. The construction of the rails and station will be finished in mid 2003 and then BTSC will install the system which will be ready by the end of 2003 or early 2004. The extension to Phetkasem will be done later.
Demolishing the Ratchayothin flyover
For the case of the Skytrain Ratchayothin extension, the demolition of the Kaset flyover is a must since the line would terminate at Soi Sena Nikhom.
Taksin extension completion depends on BTS debt restructure and new loans - translated and summarized from Thairath, December 5, 2002 and Than Setthakij, December 5-7, 2002
Investment for Taksin extension
Mr. Anat (Adviser to the BTSC Board of Directors) told correspondents from Thairath about the progress on the Taksin extensions and that the company is waiting for the final result on the investment plan from BMA. The investment plan will be submitted to creditors to obtain the initial loan of 7 billion baht to back up the extension projects. However, the KFW and BTSC have some disputes on debt restructuring such as cutting the registered capital from about 20 billion baht to 14 billion baht, debt cuts by 5 billion baht, and debt transformation into assets. The disputes will be resolved by April 2003. If debt restructure is done, the extension project can be started. According to the plan, BMA will need to invest more on stations and rail installation in addition to the structure readjustment. BTSC will then be able to open Taksin extension in early 2004. BTSC will invest on signal and services. BTSC will use the existing rolling stock without raising the ticket prices since it the extension is only 2.2 km long.
Plans for Skytrain extensions
Mr. Khiree said Hong Kong and EU investors are going to invest in BTSC extensions - 10 billion baht for new rolling stock and 10 billion baht more for more systems. There will be new bidding for extensions, but BTSC gets priority to be considered first. [Note: this means a company other than BTS could be given rights to operate the extensions.] BTSC will fight at all costs to get all three extensions. If all three extensions are opened in the next 10 years, the daily passengers will increase by 200,000 passenger a day from the current 300,000 passenger a day (total 500,000 passengers a day). Therefore the revenue will increase by 4 million baht a day from the current 5 million baht a day.
Odds and ends
For the 10 stations with very few passengers during non rush hours, BTSC will install escalator switching to turn the escalators on only when there is a passenger going upstairs to save the energy bills. Furthermore, a Smart card system will be installed in all stations to allow MRTA to use stored value tickets and future joint tickets can be used without
problems. The new Chao Phraya express boat will be run jointly by BTSC and Chaophraya Express Boat - it stops at 10 piers along the Chaophraya - will be started from Sathon Pier in January, 2003.
The 30-day pass, 3-day pass, and 1-day pass will be sold in banks, hotels, and tourist agencies.
BTSC's service received ISO 9001:200 by TIS (Thai Industry Standard Office), Ministry of Industry on July 12, 2002.
BTSC has rescheduled train times three times this year to fit traffic patterns during rush hours.
Four security, four CCTVs will be installed in each station (Siam Station will get 8), in addition to the current 8.
New station extension list
E10 Bang Chak
E11 Thamma Mongkhon - near Sukhumvit 101
E12 Udomsuk - near Udomsuk
E13 Bang Na - near BITEC - the last station in the BMA (inside Bangkok city limits)
E14 Thepharak - between Samrong Nuea and Thepharak Intersection
E15 Samrong - near Erawan Shrine
S7 Charoen Nakhon - at the foot of Taksin Bridge not far from Charoen Nakhon [just a future station -no actual implementation]
S8 Krung Thonburi - about 400 -500 meters before the Taksin intersection
S9 Taksin Intersection - 200 meter after Taksin intersection
S10 Talard Ploo - near Talard Ploo Intersection
S11 Southern Bangkok Terminal - in the proposed Southern Bangkok Terminal area [just a future station -no actual implementation]
S12 Phetkasem - in Phetkasem Road in Bang Wah - terminal station
N9 Lad Phrao Intersection - near Central Lad Phrao
N10 Ratchayothin - before reaching Ratchayothin Intersection
N11 Sena Nikhom - before reaching Soi Sena Nakhom - a terminal station
Mr. Khiree (BTSC CEO) told correspondents that BTSC is negotiating with investors from the EU and Hong Kong to invest in Skytrain extensions and cooperate with BMA and the government to officially start construction of extensions. Nevertheless, BTSC has to discuss debt restructure with old creditors for a IPO - after it has been postponed for a long time.
Mr. Anat (Advisor to the BTSC Board) told the press that the number of passengers has increased 28.04% in the year 2002 compared to the same period in 2001. Now, BTS is averaging 300,000 passengers a day and broke a new record with 350,977 passengers on Friday, November 29, 2002. The total number of passengers from Jan 1 - Nov 30, 2002 is 85.2 million - and the company expects that it will easily meet the target of 94.91 million passengers a year. BTSC also aims for a 10-15% increase in passengers to meet 100 million passenger a year with 330,000 passengers a day using a 30-day pass.
BTS debt restructing and eventual IPO - Business Day, December 3, 2002
Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS), operator of Thailand's sole elevated railway system, said it expects to complete restructuring of its $1 billion in debts within the next three months and has set a target for a public offering of shares by the fourth quarter of next year.
Cutting costs for subway extensions by 20% - BMCL will run the extension while MRTA will operate the existing segments - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, November 13, 2002
MRTA is cutting the construction costs for 36-billion baht Southern Extension of the subway by about 20% (about 2 billion baht) by reducing the number of platform levels to enable tunnel construction without having to dig very deep. Once costs are finalized, MRTA will submit the new plan to Premier Thaksin. Earlier, MOF and Thaksin told MRTA to cut construction costs by 30%.
Now it is up to the government to push the extension project forward even though the cost cutting is not reaching the 30% level yet. Minister Suriya told the press that he will definitely push the Subway Extension project forward since rail transportation in Thailand can carry only 3% causing traffic jams in major cities and the loss of lots of money for oil-- compared to Japan where 70% of transportation is rail mass transit system.
MRTA Governor Praphat told the press about the progress on the 14-km Subway Southern extension (Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae). He said MRTA has submitted the plan to the Office of Cabinet Secretariat and after that it would go to the cabinet.
MRTA has to reduce the number of platform levels (which are now 3-5) to something less. The level reduction has no detrimental effect on services since some services can be pushed to the ground level.
The extension is 14-km long, has 10 stations and a park and ride facility near The Mall (Bang Khae). Initially, the price tag for civil work was about 36.387 billion baht, but now it is about 34 billion baht. For the case of the private concession, BMCL will run the service and the new rolling stocks on the extension - with a reciprocal contract with MRTA that BMCL will freeze the ticket price to the current level while BMCL will not pay a dividend to MRTA. The dividend payment to MRTA will be discussed later. The price freeze on the extension will help to attract more passengers since MRTA has cut down the estimation for the 1st section from 460,000 passenger a day to 240,000 passengers a day. The extension will increase the number of passenger by 150,000 passenger a day.
Even though the full Southern extension will end up at Bang Khae, MRTA has to end it at Bang Wah instead (4.9 km underground from Hua Lamphong to Tha Phra) so as to fit into the government budget, and the first section of the Southern extension has to be an underground system. Only the 2nd section will be an above-ground skytrain. MRTA told the press that MRTA will use the 'Design & Build' process to construct the subway system since a subway project is very tedious work and has lots of risks.
Contractors will have to take the risk in the case of a 'Design and Build' process while the 'Detail Design' process (favored by NESDB and MOF) will push the burden onto MRTA and the government's shoulders. Even though the opponents of 'Design & Build' have pointed out the example of the 6.2 billion baht Bangna-Bang Pakong Expressway Scandal, Governor Praphat said the problem in that case was because of land transfer from the Highway Dept to ETA, not the 'Design & Build' process.
Minster Suriya said he will push the extension project forward since Thailand use rail transport only 3% of all land transportation while Japan use rail transport 70% of all land transportation. Therefore, government has to allocate more money to handle building more rail system.
Commentary: Years ago, parents of Minister Suriya, who made their fortunes in the automobile business, lobbied hard for the government not to construct any mass transit system at all--be it subway and skytrain. Therefore many observers feel skeptical that Minister Suriya will be a man of action in mass transit policy.
More Escalators for Skytrain Stations - translated and summarized from Thairath, November 12, 2002
BTSC is going to add six more escalators - 1 each for Ari, Thong Lor, Chong Nonsee, and Surasak stations. Two for Ploenchit. The total budget is 77 million baht - 72 million for the escalators and the other 5 million for installation costs. The installation of escalators will be finished by the end of June 2003. BTSC is also going to install roofs to cover the escalators at the following stations: Mochit, Ari, Victory Monument, Ratchathewee, Saladaeng, Thong Lor, Ekkamai, and Phra Khanong. The escalators at Mochit and Ari will be covered right away. The other six will be started in January 2003 and all escalators in the eight stations will be covered by the end of April 2003.
BTSC is also attempting to complete the restructuring of 35 billion baht in debt. The BMA has yet to come up with firm details on the skytrain extension and its possible financial participation.
Calling bids for the Skytrain extensions - Contractors claim ITD-UNIC already a secret winner - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, October 28, 2002.
BMA is preparing for the bidding for the Samrong extension of the Skytrain by the end of 2002. The contract will be a turnkey project. The price for the 8.9-km extension is 8.3 billion baht. The Samrong extension will be divided into 2 sections. BMA is checking on the TOR draft. There is also speculation that ITD-UNIC will be the winner. Real-estate investors have been gobbling up land along the extension route.
City Hall Correspondents received a statement from City Hall that BMA will call a bid
for Skytrain extension after getting cabinet approval.
1) Onnut - Samrong 8.9 km, 8.3 billion baht
2) Taksin - Phetkasem 4.5 km, 2.3 billion baht (Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection is handled by BMA and Sino-Thai Engineering and Consultant PCL-STECON)
3) Mochit - Ratchayothin 2.7 km, 2.6 billion baht
BMA and the consultant company are checking the TOR draft. BMA states that the public section will invest 65% on civil works while the private sector covers the rest. According the plan, it will be start in 2003 which means BMA will have to finish the bidding to get contractors to handle the project. Presently BMA has allocated 1 billion baht for the extension.
It is not clear if the bid winner will get all three lines-- it is up to the consultant to make a decision.
Details of the extensions
Onnut-Samrong will have to be executed first so as to alleviate the traffic along Sukhumvit Road.
The Samrong extension will be divided into two sections so that the contractors will be able to handle the project without financial problems. The route will go along Sukhumvit Road up to the Eravan Shrine.
For the case of the Taksin - Phetkasem section, BMA will use the structure of Phaseecharoen elevated way constructed by Sino-Thai Engineering and Consultant PCL. So far, Sino-Thai is handling from the end of S6 station to Taksin Intersection. However, BMA may not see the urgency to construct from Taksin Intersection to Phetkasem (Bang Wah).
For Mochit-Ratchayothin, BMA will have to study the feasibility about the route. Even though there are lots of potential customers along Ratchyothin extension, it is quite hard to to construct due to the Ladphrao Flyover. The Ratchayothin extension will go along Phaholyothin Road up to Ratchayothin Intersection and the have a U-turn.
There are lots of investors calling BMA to inquire about the number of stations, the routes, and many have bought land for speculation. BMA has said the distance between stations will be about 2 km.
BMA said there must be some misunderstanding about the collusion between STECON and BMA. BMA has not designed the routes yet. Some BMA officers want to exploit the projects, by calling the 7-8 major contractors to discuss the project and then use this opportunity to solicit kickbacks to get the contract. However, the contractors refuse to pay for the officers, so they told the press (such as Manager Daily) that there is collusion between BMA and STECON.
According to sources from contractors, insiders have concluded an internal agreement that they will let ITD and UNIC handle the project, but ITD and UNIC must make another agreement about which one will handle which section. There are only a few contractors which have ability to handle such projects such as ITD, STECON, UNIC, Civil, KPV, and Ch. Karnchang. So far, most of them have financial problems, and creditors may refuse to grant a loan to handle the project.
BMA is allocating about 15 billion baht to implement the Taksin and Samrong extensions.
For the case of the Taksin Extension, it will be allocated as follows:
1) Phaseecharoen Elevated way - 675.95 million baht
2) the Construction of 2 stations - 453.45 million baht
3) Rail system installation - 660 million baht
4) Signals - 1,548 million baht
Total: 2,661.40 million baht
The construction will start from the end of Saphan Taksin Station (S6) to go across Charoen Nakhon Road and go along Krung Thonburi Road and end up at Taksin Intersection. The pillars will be on the 14-meter-wide island in the middle of Krung
However, the way BMA and Sino-Thai development are handling the project is abnormal since BMA refuses to make any environmental assessment on the routes, thus, BMA cannot call a new bid in regular matter. When BMA tried to play around with turnkey project, BMA found that turnkey projects require cabinet approval. Therefore, BMA and Sino-Thai just ordered the construction materials to modify Phaseecharoen Elevated Way without any oversight.
The even worse--BMA and Sino-Thai decided to use Box Girders instead of Segmental Box Girders (which were used by Italian-Thai Development on the 1st phase of the Skytrain).
Even though the Box Girder process is cheaper than Segmental Box Girders, it has many weak points which can override the price advantage.
(1) Box Girder process cannot be applied to roads with high traffic volume since Box Girder process has detrimental effect on the safety of people and cars which go under construction sites.
(2) If BMA insists to apply Box Girder process instead Segmental Box Girder on Samrong extension as Deputy Governor Sahat has, BMA and Sino-Thai have to close at least two lanes of road from Onnut to Sarong Tai. Even OCMLT strongly opposes BMA when they knew that BMA would use Box Girders on Samrong extension to save money.
(3) Box Girder process will obstruct the view since Box Girder requires a 25-meter space between 2 pillars while Segmental Box Girder requires 50-meter space between 2 pillars.
(4) Box Girder process uses only 1 support pillar and the pillars to be used are without a pile cap on the top. Therefore, the pillars have much less ability to absorb stress-strain from traffic and may not be as earthquake-proof as the old sections which use Segmental Box Girder process. Segmental Box Girder process has 4-6 support pillars for each pillar and each pillar has a pile cap, so the pillars are strong enough to handle the stress and strain, and may even be earthquake proof. After all, the old sections are built to last for 100 years.
(5) It is impossible to change the direction of Box Girder segments to go around utilities - on the ground or underground. On the other hand, the multiple support pillars of Segmental Box Girder allows the contractors to move pillars out of the way of utilities.
(6) It is impossible to control the quality of concrete molded on the construction sites when they use Box Girder process. Even worse, the heavy machines are needed to implement Box Girder process, thus obstructing the traffic lanes.
On the other hand, those who use Segmental Box Girder process will mold the concrete (to make a station, and the concrete track) in a factory where it is much easier to maintain quality control. Even better, concrete produced by Segmental Box Girder process can be installed within 1 night and the traffic lanes can be returned back to normal by the next day.
Even BMA received strong opposition from OCMLT about the construction process, but Deputy Governor Sahat and assistance secretary Theeraphol insist that BMA have done the right thing to save construction cost.
Manager Magazine correspondents contend that Deputy Governor Sahat and assistant secretary Theeraphol might receive kickbacks from Sino-Thai so they will support the way SinoThai is going to handle the extension project even though Sino-Thai still in financial rehabilitation. [However, Manager Magazine presents no evidence for this other than the perceived illogic of the construction method.] Manager Magazine further states that if Deputy Governor Sahat did not take a bribe from Sino-Thai, the decision is reckless and careless and probably due to budget austerity imposed by the economic hard times. (translated and summarized from "Taksin Extension: Messy Skytrain Extension - BMA Recklessly Adopting Specifications to Please Sino-Thai" - Manager Weekly, October 18-25, 2002)
Political vendettas doom Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized - Matichon, September 17, 2002
The Ministry of the Interior previously submitted a proposal from BMA about plans for Skytrain extensions which stated that BMA and the public sector will handle civil works while BTSC or the private sector will handle additional rolling stock and services. The private sector would receive an investment privilege from BOI in the same way as BTSC did originally.
However, the Project Investment Committee had turned down the proposal by emphasizing that investment by BMA and the public sector is in violation of Article 2.2 of the Cabinet Resolution of February 29, 2000. Article 2.2 states that: "According to the Concession between BMA and BTSC, the concession holder MUST make a 100% investment on the initial project and extensions."
The only possible ways to get around this problem are:
1) Easier credit, public underwriting for new loans, and financial stimulation of BTSC to render 100% private investment possible
2) A new cabinet resolution to override the previous resolution of February 29, 2002 so as to allow BMA and public sector to handle the project
Commentary by Ron: This development is seen to effectively prevent Skytrain extensions...
Commentary: The political vendetta between Ch. Karnchang PCL (a company behind the Skytrain) and the government has put many critical projects on hold: the S1 expressway, consultants for the second airport (to finish the terminal design), and even BMCL concessions for the subway. Ch. Karnchang PCL wholeheartedly supports the Democrat Party (political archrivals of the Thai Rak Thai Party).
Commentary by Ron: Here is an article from Prachacart Thurakij from about a year and a half ago that hints on the same frustrations over Skytrain extensions. These political vendettas are well-reported in the Thai-language press, but are not much covered in the English-language press. The Bangkok Post story about the rejection of Skytrain extensions only mentioned that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration [was] told to come up with a more concrete feasibility study...
Commentary: Several ministers in the Thaksin cabinet have automobiles as a family business (Minister Suriya is a good example). Even worse, some of them (the Premier included) have a prejudice against mass transit systems. The freezing of the railway link between downtown Bangkok and NBIA is a good example.
Commentary by Ron: The railway to the new airport was killed last week: Thaksin told the press that NBIA does not need to rush on the construction of a mass transit system linking NBIA with downtown BKK due to the fact that there will be an 8-lane highway with no traffic lights.
A planned extension to the skytrain has made little headway, with Bangkok Metropolitan Administration told to come up with a more concrete feasibility study....Routes from Onnuj to Samrong (8.9 km), Saphan Taksin to Taksin Road (2.7km) and Mo Chit to Ratchayothin junction were approved in principle last January.
Keep laying Skytrain tracks - Editorial from the Bangkok Post, September 15, 2002
Last week an article in the Post described the debt problems faced by the
privately owned BTS system. BTS owes about 35 billion baht to international and Thai creditors, only about a quarter of which is now being serviced. It is now in the process of restructuring the debt repayment schedule.
Sana Tohthong (Deputy BMA City Clerk) said that contractors have finished testing bridge pillars supporting the Skytrain extension. All of the 26 small pillars are in very good shape, ready to carry 6.5 kiloton of weight for each. Now, the contractors are knocking cement out of the bridge pillars before pouring new cement on the Sathorn Bridge in early September 2002. The concrete pillars at Sathorn Bridge will be 11-meters high.
BMA is warning those who go along Sathorn Bridge to use other bridges (e.g. Rama III Bridge and Bangkok Bridge). Furthermore, BMA have a PR campaign to tell Bangkokians about the day when the Skytrain bridge will be done. There is very little chance of having a head-on collision between automobile and a Skytrain since Sathorn Bridge (AKA Saphan Taksin) will have concrete fences between the lanes. Furthermore, there will be a 2.50 meter wide space as a buffer to prevent any accident.
Silom Line: 7.00-7.30am, the train will run every 4 minutes; 7.30-8.30am, every 3.30 mins; 8.30-9.00am, every 4 mins; 4.00-4.30pm, every 4.20 mins; 4.30-6.30pm, every 4 mins; and 6.30-8.00pm, every 4.20 mins.
Sukhumvit Line: 7.00-7.30am, every 4 mins; 7.30-8.30am, every 3 mins; 8.30-9.00am, every 4 mins; and 4.00-8.00pm every 3.20 mins.
Governor Samak boasts that PM Thaksin agreed with him that the public investment for BTSC extension is necessary - 80% public investment on civil work and track laying (50% from the central government and 50% from BMA) and 20% from the private sector (BTSC - Siemens) on services and new rolling stock. BMA is working on the bridge from Saphan Taksin Station to Charoen Nakhon Intersection. For the case of 21-billion-baht Suvannabhum extension, BMA needs to expropriate and demolish about 17 blocks of commercial buildings along Sukhumvit Road and Onnut Road. For the case of the 82-km BKK Ring Railway, it will have a price tag of 41 billion baht - with branches to Mahachai - Samut Prakarn Crocodile Farm and Lam Lookka. Details will be submitted to the cabinet in the next 2 weeks.
Ratchaprasong Shopping Street (a new viaduct connecting Chitlom Station with Kesorn Plaza, Amarin Plaza, and Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel) opened for service. Amarin Development and GS Property Management Co. Ltd. made a joint venture investment of 50 million baht for the elevated walkway so as to support the tourist policy of the government and BMA. Ratprasong Development will handle the maintenance of the via duct.
Ratprasong Shopping Street is the 12th elevated walkway connecting Skytrain with the commercial buildings - after the previous 11 via ducts ...
Station Buildings National Stadium MBK and Tokyu Ploenchit Wave Place Saladaeng Silom Complex Chitlom - Central Chitlom, Bhanunee Building, and a building nearby Siam Siam Center Ratchathewee Asia Hotel Phromphongse The Emporium Onnut Tesco Lotus (Onnut)
The Skytrain now has an average daily passenger of 300,000 passengers a day (the current highest record is now standing at 337,275 passengers a day).
More updates from Thai-language papers - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, August 3, 2002 & Bangkok Biznews, August 3, 2002
BTSC is speeding up the US$ 800-million debt restructure to be finished by the end of 2002 so as to attract more foreign investors in additional to Siemens (Thailand) Co.Ltd. and other German firms.
BTSC expects revenue for 2002 will be 2 billion baht - 50-70% up from the 2001's revenue of 1.5 billion baht. BTSC has received 1 billion baht for the first 6 months (January-June 2002) from tickets, space renting, and advertising, so the 2 billion baht target is not too far to reach at all.
Daily revenue is about 6 million baht while the daily interest payment is about 8 million baht.
BTSC has signed contracts with creditors that BTSC is obligated to pay 25% (fluctuating up to 30% or down to 20% depending on the daily exchange rate) of daily interest payments (at 2 million baht a day). The US$800 million baht debt is not considered a non-performing debt (NPL) at all since BTSC could pay the interest back to the creditors.
After the creditors have approved the debt restructure plan, BTSC will offer an IPO on SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) even though BTSC expected that the creditors will cooperate with BTSC on the debt restructure plan and invite more foreign investors. BTSC also is negotiating with Siemens (Thailand) (a major shareholder, member of BTSC Board f Directors, and major creditor of BTSC) about the debt restructure as well as the extensions. The plan will be delivered to the Central Bankruptcy Court on August 9, 2002.
Adding more trains to the routes
After hearing complains about the crowded Skytrain, BTSC decided to shorten the waiting interval from 5 minutes to 3 minutes for the Sukhumvit line to carry more passengers-- expected to be 400,000 passengers a day--starting early August 2002. To shorten the waiting period, BTSC has to use all a few more sets of rolling stock from the reserve instead of the current 28 sets of rolling stocks (7 sets for the reserve--a total of 35 sets).
For the three extensions (Samrong, Taksin, Ratchayothin), BTSC has to ask BMA about this matter, even though BMA and BTSC have to get new cabinet approval to override the older cabinet decisions on the matter.
Connecting to the subway
For MRTA (subway) connection, BTSC and MRTA plan to install escalators connecting Skytrain and Subway together at Mochit, Asok and Saladaeng. After that, joint tickets will be issued ... with the new rates, of course.
After via duct at Ratchaprasong is opened for service, the 13th via duct will connect Saphan Taksin and Shangri La Hotel together. However, the Bridge across Chaophraya must be done first before the construction of the 13th via duct can be started.
Now, BTSC has already offered 1-day pass (100 Baht), 3-Day pass (280-Baht), 3 tourist service centers at Siam, Saphan Taksin and Nana, and jointed with Chaophraya Express Boat Co.Ltd. to offer a 780-Baht package tour (food and guide included) along the river,starting at Saphan Taksin to Wat Arun, Royal Barge Museum, Sumen Fort, and so on.
BMA also plan to construct the connection between BITEC and Bangna Station (of Samrong extension) and set up a park and ride facility at BITEC with the monthly rent of 1000 baht a car. This will increase the revenue for BITEC by 10 million baht a month.
For the case of Suvannabhum extension along Onnut Road, BMA trying to push very hard despite of strong disapproval from OCMLT and SRT.
Dr. Bhijit Rattakul (former BMA Governor) has delivered a letter to Premier Thaksin that the government should be decentralized even more rigorously since BMA cannot wait for the approval for Skytrain extensions from at least seven ministry levels of the central government. Even the BKK Ring Railway has been stalled after 10 months due to red tape at the ministry levels. It is beyond tolerable to be back to square one every time BMA tries to get approval for Skytrain extensions The 1 billion baht rule in the Joint venture Act causes delays on the extension projects many times. Therefore, the central government should grant immediate approvals for extension projects even though the projects will start on a one-by-one basis.
From an anonymous BTS insider: I have just confirmed that the Saphan Taksin station will not be torn down, and that the space issue will be dealt with quite simply: The two rails will converge into one, and the opposite-moving trains will take turns using it. Just like a single-lane car bridge with a signal light. Delays will be minimal, under half a minute probably. So Saphan Taksin station is safe--it's an elegant solution that should make everyone happy. And a "rumor only:" new skybridges are being planned for Asoke station to connect to Robinson and the Sheraton, probably early 2003.
On Glimpse of Thailand at cityrain.com, there is a photo of the work at Taksin Bridge to extend the Skytrain line across the Chao Phraya River. There's only one photo now--more will be added soon.
Wesley Hsu writes: Kudos again for posting regular updates on infrastructure news--no one else does! Anyway I was wondering whether the new approved extension to Wong Wian Yai means that BTS is definitely tearing down the Taksin station so that two tracks can squeeze through the bridge. I recall some controversy over this a year ago. The Taksin station is quite popular, and they're now building a new big pier below it to accommodate the increase in boat traffic which has partly resulted from the presence of the BTS connection. Furthermore, according to the posted boards, the Taksin Pier is now renamed CENTRAL PIER on the CP Express route, indicating that indeed it is being packaged as the interchange hub that has become.
1) A SRT high speed train link has the lowest cost - no need for the land exappropriation -> just evict those who live along the Eastern railway and set up a new home for them at either Lad Krabang or Rangsit
2) 20-km distance from Makkasan to NBIA by Eastern railway -> a short distance from downtown
3) 40-km from Donmuang Airport to NBIA by Northern and Eastern railway is a very suitable distance -> 30-minute trip from NBIA to Donmuang with a speed of 160-180 km/hr (100-120 km/hr for Sprinter)
4) SRT plans to set up a City Air Terminal (New Makkasan Station) with an Immigration Office as well as other facilities such as MRTA subway at Phetburi station, Eastern bus terminal, ticket confirmation at City Air Terminal, luggage transportation by rail and so on.
1) BMA rents Skytrain rolling stock to pick up passengers
2) BTSC rents the rails and land from BMA
Summarized and translated - Thairath Daily, June 28, 2002 & Bangkok Biznews, 15:50, June 28, 2002
Completing the Taksin Extension by June 2004
Praphon Wongsewichian (Director of BMA Traffic Bureau) told the press that BMA has hired Sino-Thai to construct the Skytrain Taksin extension from Saphan Taksin Station to the beginning of Phaseecharoen Elevated Road with a price tag of 242 million baht. Sino-Thai has moved to the base of Sathorn Bridge to construct pillars to support the Skytrain bridge. The pillar will have a V-Shape structure so as to fit into the structure of Sathorn Bridge. BMA also asked Sino-Thai to move all equipment and construction materials by boats so as to prevent traffic jams. Taksin Extension will start from Saphan Taksin station and run to Wongwian Yai Railway station. BMA hopes that Taksin extension will be done by the end of June 2004.
Extension of the Taksin line beyond Wongwian Yai on hold
Even though the pillars for the Skytrain reach to Ratchadaphisek Ring Road (Tha Phra), BMA decided not to construct the extension to that point since the cabinet has not approved the extension from Taksin Intersection to Bang Wah (Phetkasem Road) yet. OCMLT and BMA are also still negotiating over the terminal station for the second phase of the Taksin extension (beyond Wongwian Yai Railway Station) and whether it should terminate at Wat Ang Kaeo Primary School (Phetkasem Road) or the Skytrain should connect with MRTA Subway Southern extension (Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra - Bang Kae).
Onnut Road extension rejected
OCMLT has turned down the NBIA extension (to the new airport) via Onnut Road since this extension has very low potential and SRT could revive the Hopewell project to construct the elevated railways from Bangsue to NBIA via the Eastern railway lines (Makkasan station). Nevertheless, OCMLT will invite BMA to explain why OCMLT refuses to accept the NBIA extension via Onnut Road.
The three other extensions
OCMLT will ask BMA to speed up plans for the three Skytrain extensions to be approved by Traffic Committee and the cabinet:
1) Onnut - Samrong (Samrong extension)
2) Saphan Taksin - Woangwian Yai - Phetkasem (Taksin extension) and
3) Mochit - Ratchayothin (Phaholyothin extension)
Getting around the private investment rule
Even though the first two extensions were approved by the cabinet in 2000, the new approvals will override cabinet resolutions to allow BMA and the government to invest on Skytrain extensions in the same way as the MRTA subway project operates [originally the SKytrain was supposed to be 100% private investment]. The third extension (Phaholyothin extension) is a substitute for the Rama III extension since the development of the Rama III area is in decline due to economic downturn and the large traffic volume on Paholyothin road. BMA will be asked to draft a construction plan and budget for all three Skytrain extensions to be submitted to the Traffic Committee so as to change from 100% private investment to 80% public investment on civil works and 20% private investment on rolling stock and systems (BTSC is running out of cash and their creditors have encouraged BTSC to ask the government to bail them out of trouble). Once the plan is complete, it will be submitted to the cabinet.
Commentary: Taksin extension has started and I hope that it will be done on schedule so that BTS will have bargaining power to negotiate with MRTA about the ticket rates connecting the two systems.
I hope that BTSC and OCMLT will choose to connect the Skytrain and subway into a single system at Bang Wah for convenience in the long run even though it is more expensive than terminating at Wat Ang Kaeo. The extension to Ratchayothin is indeed very good. Ratchayothin station will become an interchange station in the future if the cabinet approves the line from SCB Park Plaza to Samrong via Lad Phrao Road, Sri Nakharin Road and Thepharak Road. People around Chokchai 4 Road and Bang Kapi are desperate for a Skytrain extension along Lad Phrao Road.
Skytrain is still the system to beat
I refer to a letter in Postbag, June 10: ``Skytrain is going rapidly downhill'' by ``A Skytrain Freak'', and ``What was brilliant is now badly timed'' by Christian Lloyd. First, the reference to the Kanjanapas family: Khun Keeree Kanjanapas has been the driving force behind the Skytrain project and as CEO, he is committed to operating and maintaining the system to world-class standards.
The statement that ``the rails are loosening'' is not correct. BTSC is maintained to the highest standards by Siemens with a combined foreign and Thai maintenance team. Regarding the rocking motion experienced between Siam and Chitlom, regular users of the system will note that due to the slight curve in the track there is a sideways motion. The swaying motion of the train has been present since the railway's opening and is completely safe; this is normal and not due to poor maintenance.
With regard to the view that BTS is becoming overcrowded ``Tokyo-stuff in the morning'', passenger density in the ``peak-of-the-peak'' at the busiest period between 8:00-8:15am in the most crowded section is only about half that of the busy sections in Hong Kong and Tokyo metros. BTSC is monitoring passenger loading levels very carefully to ensure that standards of comfort are maintained. In fact we have, and will, continue to increase the number of trains each hour to meet demand.
Our daily records show that the average for the peak hour in May was 65% of capacity or 3.25 passengers/square metre (p/m2). Most metros in Asia (including Hong Kong and Japan) have peak hour loading standards of 6-7 p/m2.
Skytrain Freak's opinion that ``a typical metro train length in Europe and America is perhaps 20 cars long'' is incorrect. Metro train lengths range from 3-9 cars. A 20-car train is not possible as it would mean stations up to five hundred metres in length, more than three times the size of BTS stations. In fact, shorter trains operating more frequently deliver a better service than longer trains operating less frequently; that is, short trains operate at three-minute intervals whereas a longer train could only operate at 10-minute intervals.
The view that there is ``drastically limited technical competence of Thai companies, since the owners are not willing to pay'' could not be further from the truth, based on my 30 years' experience working with leading mass transit railway operators in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.
Concerning Christian Lloyd's view that punctuality is worsening, the system is in excellent condition _ with on-time performance for May at 99.40%. The Skytrain is one of the most reliable metro systems in the world and delivers a level of reliability such that a passenger could ride every day for three years and not experience more than one delay greater than five minutes. Simultaneous train arrivals at Siam at the peak is not synchronised simply to avoid a clashing of passengers changing from one line to the other; the average waiting time during the peak is 90 seconds. Train arrivals in the off-peak period are synchronised to avoid longer waiting time. The same technique is used in other leading metros.
Paul M Anderson
Chief Operating Officer
Bangkok Transit System Co
BMA is pushing the 8.9-km Samrong extension and 2.2-km Taksin Extension forward and asking the cabinet to allocate 9.5 billion baht to enable BMA to handle the civil work for these extensions while BTSC is investing 5.5 billion baht on signals, systems and services, said the City Clerk. The committee will submit the investment plan and the route to the cabinet this week.
BMA is proposing a new extension from Onnut to NBIA via Onnut Road (Sukhumvit 77 Road) so as to connect the passengers to the Downtown BKK after the opening of NBIA on December 5, 2004.
Nevertheless, BMA will ask BMA Traffic and Transportation Office to make a feasibility study about the route from Onnut to NBIA via Onnut Road with total distance of 23 km. If the route is feasible, BMA will send the plan to the NBIA board to draft a proposal to the cabinet to allocate the budget.
Commentary: OCMLT proposed that the Skytrain to NBIA either go along Eastern Railway or Bangna-Trat Highway (there are too few people living along or close to the eastern section of Kanchaphasek Outer Ring road).
The route to NBIA via Onnut Road is a new one .... good for the suburbs, but not very good for either those who live and work near the eastern railway (Pratoonam, Makkasan, Phetburi, RCA, Klong Tan, Hua Mark, Lad Krabang) or Bangna-Trat Highway (BITEC, Ramkhamhaeng [Bangna Campus], Central City Bangna, the Nation, Thana City, and the new HQ of Charoen Phokkhaphan Group). Onnut Route is good for those who live around Onnut Road (Sri Nut Intersection, Phatthanakarn, Hua Mark Station, Rom Klao, etc.). Which route offers the best deal is up to BTSC and BMA....
translated and summarized from Matichon, May 20, 2002
Minister Suwat Lippataphanlop (Minister of PM Office) told Matichon after visiting BTSC and surveying the Skytrain extension routes that OCMLT would support the following three extensions:
1) Taksin Extension (for the Silom Line) - from Taksin Bridge to Phet Kasem Road (Saphan Taksin - Bang Wah), 6.6 km
2) Samrong Extension (for the Sukhumvit Line) - from Onnut to Samrong (Onnut - Samrong Tai), 8.9 km
3) Phaholyothin Extension (for the Sukhumvit Line) - from Mochit to Ratchayothin (Mochit - Ratchayothin), 2.8 km
All 3 extensions would require a total investment of 25.954 billion baht. OCMLT is sending the proposals to BMA for consideration.
OCMLT decided to change the 3rd extension from Rama III to Phaholyothin since the Phaholyothin extension would carry much more passengers than the Rama III extension
Minister Suwat noted that Phaseecharoen Elevated Road (which BMA is modifying to become a Taksin extension) has lots of problems to be solved to ensure that this extension can serve people who travel across Chao Phraya River.
The MRTA Subway will have three interchanges with the Skytrain at Dusit Thanee Hotel, Asok Intersection, and Mochit. Minister Suwat suggested that BTSC and BMCL negotiate about joint tickets before the opening of the subway since both systems start from 10 baht [actually only BTSC starts at 10 baht while MRTA starts at 14 baht].
Suwat also mentioned that BTSC and BMA must find resolutions for the extensions as soon as possible to speed up the construction. Even though the cabinet resolution stated that BTSC must construct the extensions on their own, BTSC said they want the contract for extensions to be like the MRTA Subway--the public handles the civil works while private sector handles the service.
The Skytrain Extension to Thonburi - 18:32, April 27, 2002
Praphon Wongsewichian (Director of BMA Traffic and Transportation Office) said that the BMA Traffic Office has hired a consultant company that also worked as an architect for the Phaseecharoen Elevated Way to study the plan from OCMLT which asks BMA to make a Western extension of the Skytrain from Sathon Bridge to Wat Angkaeo (from April 2001). The study with explore:
1) The structural detail of the Skytrain route
2) The structure of Sathorn Bridge
3) The structure of Phaseecharoen Elevated Way
4) The structure of the bridge across Chaophraya River from Saphan Taksin Station to the end of Phaseecharoen Elevated Way (about 460 meters).
According to the preliminary study, BMA needs about 276 million baht to install the pillars on Sathorn Bridge. BMA could install pillars on the pillar bases of Sathon Bridge since the bridge was designed to carry the structure of a mass transit system in addition to the automobile bridge. The area also has enough space to accept a double track.
However, the physical readjustment of the Phaseecharoen Elevated way to become Skytrain tracks is a must. For example, BMA has to turn the silencer walls into the normal walls, cut down the ramps that go up and down from the elevated way, readjust the road surface to handle the skytrain double track, and quit installing the lights and the traffic signs since they are no longer needed. The consultant said the company will submit the study details to BMA by the end of 2002. (from "276 Million Baht for the Studies on the Skytrain Extension to Thonburi," Thairath, February 11, 2002 )
When new Skytrain cards expire
Remember how BTS (the Skytrain company) was replacing the original stored-value cards originally issued in 1999? Thairath has info on when the newly issued cards will expire: March 2004 . (from "BTSC Changing Expiring Cards," Thairath, February 1, 2002)
The Skytrain on CNN - 20:19, March 27, 2002
CNN has a cursory article on the Skytrain: Bangkok's traffic is a cauldron of earsplitting noise, lung-corroding fumes and hours of waiting in idling vehicles snarled in gridlock. Some call these streets a hell on Earth. Thanks to Don Entz for pointing this out.
Adding a new BTS Skytrain station at BITEC
Thai Post Daily, March 15, 2002
BMA Deputy Governor Sahat Bunditkul told the press that the committee concluded that the 9-km Samrong extension needed to have a new station at BITEC since BITEC has hosted several international conventions. The new Skytrain station at BITEC would facilitate both tourists and the convention attendants so that they could stay at hotels along Sukhumvit and Silom Road and go shopping.
Deputy Governor Sahat said OCMLT has issued a resolution for three Skytrain extensions that public sectors must invest on structure and the rail system while private sectors (BTSC) must invest in the rolling stock system.
Passenger numbers & tourist passes
BTSC reported to the committee that the number of passengers in January 2002 increased from the number of passengers in January 2001 by 34.83% Even though BTSC has issued 3-day pass tickets for tourists (280 baht each), BTSC found that they should issue 1-day pass tickets for tourists (100 baht each) since lots of tourists take only one-day trips to Bangkok.
Chong Nongsee walkway
BTSC also decided to construct a via duct connecting the Chong Nongsee Station to the pedestrian overpass at Sathorn Thanee Intersection to add more convenience for passengers around Sathorn Road.
Commentary: One-day passes would be a blessing for tourists indeed! It should be accompanied with a one-day BMTA air-conditioned bus pass (60 baht) to facilitate the trips around Bangkok and suburbs.
Even though the new station at BITEC is a must, I could not imagine how BMA and BTSC are going to construct the tracks and curves without expropriation the area around Bang Na. They can construct Samrong extension without expropriation but the area has narrow curves and a U-turn. It is possible to go along Udomsuk Road (Sukhumvit 103), Sri Nakharin Road, Bangna-Trat Highway and back to Sukhumvit at Bang Na intersection, but this would increase construction costs.
For the case of the Rama III extension, BTSC might have to design single car rolling stock bigger than BMTA air-conditioned buses (EURO-2 standards) since it would be inappropriate to run 3-car Skytrain rolling stock along Rama III Road and Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Road. The normal 3-car Skytrain requires very large curves (200-m radius) while the conditions of both Rama III Road and Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Road has limited the curve radius of 80 meters.